I know in this new world of publishing there’s been a lot of debate about what is your function. I can’t speak for other authors, but let me explain what I expect you to do. It’s the job you were always intended to do. Edit my manuscript to assure it’s a strong, well-written book.
I expect you to tell me my GMC is strong, my characters believable and worth rooting for, and my plot doesn’t have holes big enough to drive a Mack truck through. You’ll notice I didn’t say anything about will it sell?
That’s because that’s not part of your job. At least, it shouldn’t be and that’s where traditional publishing went off the tracks. Okay, I’m realistic enough to understand that a print publisher can’t afford to market a cutting-edge story just because it’s a well-written novel. But there’s a new sheriff in town, boys and girls. And that makes all the difference because it puts the salability of the book right where it belongs…in the market.
Just as in the first days of storytelling where the worst storyteller would be lucky to earn the worst piece of charred mammoth for his effort while the best storyteller sat closest to the fire and dined with the chief, a book’s value should be determined by the market. Is there any other product that its success doesn’t depend on the market?
Nowadays, anyone who wants to publish their work can do so. Thanks to electronic publishing, it’s very easy to download your work. And, trust me, there are a ton of people out there who are doing just that! unfortunately, a lot of them are doing so and that includes those who always blame “elitist” editor for why they never got anything accepted by traditional publishers. If nothing else, electronic publishing is going to prove that there will NEVER be a time when a good editor isn’t needed.
Editors, like authors, aren’t just taught. Good editors do more than monitor the elements of writing, such as dialogue, plot, and characterization. A good editor also has the gut instinct that tells them that no matter how different a story it is or how far off the wall, the story is awesome. They’ll help the author make it the best story it can be and leave the rest to the market.
So, Editor, when I submit my manuscript to you, I don’t want you to tell me if it’s saleable. You can help me with the elements of a good story, but then, my story will have to face the market. If it’s good and I do some promotion, it’ll sell. If it’s bad, trust me, word will get around. With the Internet, it doesn’t take long. And cream will rise to the top.